David is widely considered one of the most amazing minds in data analytics. Although he’s started a few businesses out of need, Dave is inherently an engineer. His mother realised that when she came home one day to find her young son had dismantled the dishwasher to see how it worked.
While at Amazon, collaborating with the world-renowned innovator Jeff Bezos, he saw how data became the fundamental building block of all innovation. Dave’s company, RichRelevance, drives over one billion real-time decisions every day.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is progressing unexpectedly quickly. AlphaGo’s victory over world Go champion Lee Sedol in March happened five years earlier than anticipated (1).
Dividing the world
Developments like that are dividing the world into two camps – excited or scared. Dave says the reason we are pulling at the extremes is because we are focusing on the emotion and self-awareness areas of AI instead of using areas such as mathematical complexity (think of it as logic engines) to advance the world.
“There could be amazing progress,” he says. For example, AI could solve very hard computational problems like fraud.
Big data and GPUs
The pace of development continues to accelerate with AI now ‘deep learning’. What took Dave’s own AI creation 48 hours to learn, now only takes it 45 minutes. One of the enabling factors is the enormous volume of data being generated.
A few years ago some people famously predicted that software was going to eat the world (2). They were wrong. It is data that is eating everything. That’s why Dave believes AI is entering a discontinuity phase of development.
Another contributing factor is NVIDIA’s graphic processing units (GPUs) that have commoditised the underlying intelligence. Building AI used to cost up to US$75 million but now Dave is doing incredible work on AI by running a relatively advanced GPU on his home computer which cost less than US$6,000. This incredibly low cost of entry is also driving discontinuous change.
Companies with data are winners
He predicts two groups will emerge economic winners. The disrupters/innovators and the companies with data that are storing and analysing it, like Google, Facebook and Apple.
At CommBank we’re accelerating our work on innovation. Our Innovation Labs are spaces for co-creation and ideas. We can also add value given we have one of the largest transactional data sets in Australia. It is definitely worth visiting our Innovation Lab in Sydney to explore thinking and working differently and the value of data analytics.